1 Samuel 11:1-15 All Difficulties Are Divine Opportunities for Breakthroughs
1 Samuel 11:1-15
Then Nahash the Ammonite went up and besieged Jabesh-gilead, and all the men of Jabesh said to Nahash, “Make a treaty with us, and we will serve you.” 2 But Nahash the Ammonite said to them, “On this condition I will make a treaty with you, that I gouge out all your right eyes, and thus bring disgrace on all Israel.” 3 The elders of Jabesh said to him, “Give us seven days ‘respite that we may send messengers through all the territory of Israel. Then, if there is no one to save us, we will give ourselves up to you.” 4 When the messengers came to Gibeah of Saul, they reported the matter in the ears of the people, and all the people wept aloud. 5 Now, behold, Saul was coming from the field behind the oxen. And Saul said, “What is wrong with the people, that they are weeping?” So they told him the news of the men of Jabesh. 6 And the Spirit of God rushed upon Saul when he heard these words, and his anger was greatly kindled. 7 He took a yoke of oxen and cut them in pieces and sent them throughout all the territory of Israel by the hand of the messengers, saying, “Whoever does not come out after Saul and Samuel, so shall it be done to his oxen!” Then the dread of the Lord fell upon the people, and they came out as one man. 8 When he mustered them at Bezek, the people of Israel were three hundred thousand, and the men of Judah thirty thousand. 9 And they said to the messengers who had come, “Thus shall you say to the men of Jabesh- gilead: ‘Tomorrow, by the time the sun is hot, you shall have salvation.’” When the messengers came and told the men of Jabesh, they were glad. 10 Therefore the men of Jabesh said, “Tomorrow we will give ourselves up to you, and you may do to us whatever seems good to you.” 11 And the next day Saul put the people in three companies. And they came into the midst of the camp in the morning watch and struck down the Ammonites until the heat of the day. And those who survived were scattered, so that no two of them were left together. 12 Then the people said to Samuel, “Who is it that said, ‘Shall Saul reign over us? ’ Bring the men, that we may put them to death.” 13 But Saul said, “Not a man shall be put to death this day, for today the Lord has worked salvation in Israel.” 14 Then Samuel said to the people, “Come, let us go to Gilgal and there renew the kingdom.” 15 So all the people went to Gilgal, and there they made Saul king before the Lord in Gilgal. There they sacrificed peace offerings before the Lord, and there Saul and all the men of Israel rejoiced greatly.
Saul was appointed as king amidst underwhelming support. Before he could consolidate his power, the people of Jabesh-gilead were under threat by the Ammonites. What came as a threat to his kingdom became an opportunity to establish his leadership capability as king. Therefore, believers need to perceive challenges of life as opportunities to rise to the occasion and establish ourselves as sons of God. Every profession carries a divine call and the Spirit will empower us at the right time to overcome difficulties and to excel in all our endeavors.
On this condition I will make a treaty with you, that I gouge out all your right eyes, and thus bring disgrace on all Israel – Nahash the Ammonite, the enemy of Israel came up to the city of Jabesh-gilead and besieged it. The people of Jabesh-gilead having no confidence to defend themselves wanted to make a treaty with the Ammonite to serve them in exchange for their lives. However, Nahash would not accept the treaty without first gouging out their right eyes and humiliating them. The leaders of Jabesh asked for seven days to consider Nahash’s offer.
And the Spirit of God rushed upon Saul when he heard these words, and his anger was greatly kindled – When Saul came to know about the plight of the people in Jabesh-gilead, the Spirit rushed upon him and he was enraged. He created the urgency for unity and camaraderie by sending parts of an oxen throughout the territory of Israel demanding immediate participation and conscription for battle. Whoever refused to comply with his order would face similar fate to his oxen. The Spirit of God imparted to Saul boldness and leadership capabilities causing him to rise up in the time of distress and despair.
Then the dread of the Lord fell upon the people, and they came out as one man – Even as Saul possessed by the Spirit called the people to war by unconventional means, God was nevertheless involved in gathering the people to respond to Saul’s call: the dread of the Lord fell upon the people. The “dread of the Lord” connotes the fear of the God. Somehow, the people were compelled to respond to Saul not so much as to the threat of their oxen being dismembered, but of divine consequence should they disobey. On that day, 330,000 men gathered in unison under Saul’s leadership: they came out as one man.
And they came into the midst of the camp in the morning watch and struck down the Ammonites until the heat of the day – After assembling 330,000 soldiers at Bezek, Saul marched all night and early in the morning engaged the Ammonites in battle, and slaughtered them. What came as an unfortunate event became an opportunity to consolidate Saul’s authority as king: Samuel said, “Come, let us go to Gilgal and there renew the kingdom.” Only this time at Gigal, Saul was established as king under one unanimous people.
- We must perceive tumultuous times as opportunities to display God’s power and to establish our divine appointment as sons. Saul took on the new office as king amidst underwhelming support. The threat against the people of Jabesh-gilead came as an opportunity for Saul to rise to the occasion. He not only saved the people of Jabesh-gilead, he united the Israelites against a common enemy and defeated them. The people of Jabesh-gilead caved in under pressure; it never occurred to them that they could fight for their freedom. Even though Saul did not enjoy resounding support from the people, he perceive this threat as God-given opportunity to consolidate his power and display his kingly prowess. As diamonds are formed under great heat and pressure, great men and women are forged in the crucible of distress and mayhem.
- Do not worry about the future, for when the time comes, the Spirit will give you the words to say and move you into action. Saul did not preplan what he needed to do; neither did he foresee the threat from the Ammonites. But the Spirit came upon him in good time and moved the people as one man. Certainly, we must do our due diligence to plan as best as we could, and at the same time give the Holy Spirit the prerogative to determine the process as well as the outcome. When we give the Holy Spirit free reign, we will see miracles and outcomes beyond what we could think or imagine. The human tendency is to be fixated on one outcome, and to be hung up on finding the perfect solution. The perfect solution and outcome are hidden in the Holy Spirit. Hence, believers must submit to the Spirit’s ways step by step, moment by moment. The Spirit reveals His plan in phases so that we could focus on the tasks at hand without worrying about the future. Hence, we only need to accomplish what the Spirit has revealed for the moment. After we have fulfilled what was instructed, the next course of action will then be given when the time comes.
- No matter what profession you belong to, the Spirit will empower you to excel in it. Nevertheless, we must not let our lack of natural capabilities or limited resources undermine our confidence. We must see our profession in our work or ministry as having a divine call. Saul was not trained as a soldier or a commander, but when the Spirit came upon him, he was able to muster the support of the entire nation through unconventional methods. And he marched all night with such endurance and slaughtered the Ammonites in battle. Although there were men who have decided that he would fail, but Saul simply believed that his appointment is divine and God would be with him in all his endeavors.
- Are you currently going through tumultuous times? Whether you are a homemaker, a parent, a worker or a minister, the Spirit is at hand to empower and cause you to rise to the occasion. The key is not to worry but to depend on the Spirit every moment of the day. Listen to what the Spirit is telling you to do today and do it. Likewise for tomorrow and the day after next. In due time, you shall have your breakthrough if you do not give up. Galatians 6:9 say, “And let us not grow weary of doing what is right, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”
- Do you see your profession as possessing a divine purpose? You may not be a king as Saul was, but your work has a divine purpose in providing well being to the society and livelihood to your family. The Spirit is at work to empower you to excel in your profession and ministry and to overcome the challenges that may come.
Dear Lord, I believe my profession carries a divine purpose. Give me the confidence and wisdom to persevere in accomplishing my calling through my profession. I depend on your empowerment to face the challenges that will come daily. I acknowledge that all difficulties carry opportunities to glorify you and to establish my identity as a son of God. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.